Unbound Awareness Trips
Jun 11 2013

Katie’s story: ‘The glorious melody of Estela’s laugh’

Katie Lockee, a sophomore at Rockhurst University and a member of the Kappa Eta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha, recently returned from a service visit to Guatemala. While she was there she had the opportunity to meet Estela, the girl her sorority sponsors through CFCA. Find out how a 6-year-old brunette with chocolate brown eyes melted her heart and changed her life.

By Katie Lockee

When I signed up for a service trip to Guatemala I expected a few things to happen:

1. Though I did not know the people I would be traveling with, I knew we would form closer bonds after one week in a foreign country than we could after one month in the United States.

2. I would help and meet people who would have a drastic, positive influence on my trip, as well as my life.

3. My life would never be the same after I returned home.

Each of my predictions came true. The week I spent in Guatemala did change my life, and in ways I would not have imagined.

Had you asked as I arrived in San Lucas Toliman, I would have told you that I would be changed because of the people I would meet and the work I would do.

I would have said that I would leave with a new and profound sense of the world, always thinking about those in San Lucas Toliman, and knowing I made as big of a difference in the lives of the Guatemalans as they did in mine.

All of that I expected.

What I did not expect was that the most influential part of my trip would come in the form of a 6-year-old brunette with chocolate brown eyes that melted my heart, and a laugh that carried my troubles to the edge of the earth.

Meeting Estela, my sorority’s sponsored child, will forever be the highlight of my time spent in Guatemala.

Being a new member to the Zeta Tau Alpha family that sponsors Estela, I did not know much about Estela before I got the chance to meet her and her mother.

Though the language barrier made some communication difficult, we quickly found ways around it; the first being a timid, but warm, embrace spurred by the push of her mother.

The next being an exchange of gifts and a game of Candy Land, which I had brought as a gift for her and her family.

We decided to get some ice cream before we went to the park, and Estela sat on my lap as we ate our ice cream cones.

After we were both done with our treats, we continued to sit together and enjoyed some small talk with the help of our translators.

It was then that I discovered something that brought me undeniable joy — Estela is ticklish.

And with that came the most beautiful and carefree laugh I have ever heard.

A laugh that swept away all of my worries, insecurities, and troubles; a laugh that carried me right back to my own childhood; and a laugh that immediately evoked a shining smile from her mother.

The glorious melody of Estela’s laugh echoed throughout the rest of the afternoon as we went down slides at the park and buried our hands in the sand.

The memory of Estela’s smile and laughter eased me through the hard transition back into American living, and the same memories ease my heart on my darkest days.

It’s been close to three months since I met Estela, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.

While I was nervous at first to meet Estela and her mother, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and the first thing I think about when I reflect on my time spent in Guatemala.

Though the date is not yet on my calendar, I know I will be back to Guatemala to visit the beautiful little girl that stole my heart.

But until then, I will continue to write Estela and keep up to date on her life as well as her family.

Related links:
Sponsor a child today!

2 thoughts on “Katie’s story: ‘The glorious melody of Estela’s laugh’”

  1. This is great! I was drawn to this blog since our Estela and Katie’s Estela share a name. What wonderful memories they made. And I know meeting our sponsored child AND getting to meet their mothers gave a whole new dimension to my sponsorship experience!

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